Prior to attending an equity conference in Germany in November, I took the time to do some leisure travelling in Belgium and the Netherlands. For many, talk of the Low Countries evokes images of flat lands, canals and, of course, windmills. While plenty of traditional windmills can be found in this region, there are also now many modern wind turbines dotting the landscape, not only in the countryside but in more urbanized areas as well. Perhaps most striking was the massive project I saw in Antwerp. Antwerp’s port, the second busiest in Europe after Rotterdam, historically saw its skyline dominated by cargo cranes and oil refineries. Today however, 65 wind turbines tower over all these structures, a symbol of renewable energy powering historic industry and commerce. Built over the last five years, it is now Belgium’s largest onshore wind farm, producing electricity for over 100,000 households in the region, with further expansion in the works.
We’ve been thinking about wind power in the context of an upcoming study on several areas we consider to be “global challenges”. Such challenges include building a robust renewable energy infrastructure, coping with resource scarcity and rethinking the waste management cycle. While many such issues are often viewed through a simple, thematic “sustainability” lens, we believe identifying economically viable models in these areas will allow for enduring solutions to challenges we face as a planet. For investors willing to dig deeper into what is truly impactful and achievable, we also believe there is an attractive long-term opportunity set. Though in the early stages of our work, we have already identified several such opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic and look forward to uncovering others down the line!